Chapter 30: Drawing Lots
Fu Xiu Yi belonged to the Imperial family and naturally would not be ignorant to the methods that the Imperial family used. The clear sound of the teacup might seem like an accident but it had disrupted the musicians rhythm and could no longer stir up everyone feelings. He naturally want to know who was the initiator. Fu Xiu Yi has a cautious and suspicious temperament thus he did not think that the other did it unintentionally.
The purple clad female was talking to others with her chin resting on her hand. She look indifferent and afar but there was an indescribable air about her that clearly set her apart from others.
“Who is Ninth Younger Brother looking at?” Prince Zhuo, Fu Xiu An followed Fu Xiu Yi sight and revealed an evident smile. “Talking about among us brothers, it is only Ninth Younger Brother who have yet to take a wife. Imperial father had mentioned many times of the selection of a wife for Ninth Younger Brother. So, which family’s young lady do that female below to? She looks pretty good. Not sure which are her relatives and if we know any one of them?”
“It is the Fifth Young Lady of the formidable Great General residence and this one’s student.” Pei Lang stood not far away and replied after hearing what was said.
“The Fifth Young Lady of the formidable Great General residence?” Prince Jing, Fu Xiu Xuan, memory was good but perhaps Shen Miao’s reputation was so huge that the Imperial family were no strangers to her name. He said, “Isn’t that the Di daughter of General Shen Xin? Seemed to be called Shen Miao?”
“How could it be Shen Miao?” Fu Xiu An smile without a care, “The matter of Shen Miao chasing our Ninth Younger Brother was something the entire capital knows about and a few days back didn’t she fell into the water just to look at Ninth Younger Brother? If Ninth Younger Brother was truly pleased with Shen Miao, it would not be so troublesome. Moreover, Shen Miao is an idiot but you see the young lady at the other side has an elegant and noble air. How could she be Shen Miao?”
“Forth Older Brother should speak cautiously as Xiu Yi did not have such intentions.” Fu Xiu Yi shook his head but his sight was firmly on the purple clad young lady far at the other side of the female section of the banquet.
In his heart, it was not that he was not shocked. Shen Miao in his eyes was of no difference to the other young ladies that admire him. Those young ladies that like him would pretend to be modest on the surface and understood the etiquette and advance or retreat appropriately but Shen Miao… Most likely other that looking at him foolishly, she did not know anything else. He obviously would not take into consideration of an idiot that the entire Ding capital laugh about. If it was not due to Shen Xin, he would have clearly show the disgust on his face.
Moreover his memories of Shen Miao was someone who always love to wear bright red or green robes and love to put on gold jewellery as she ferociously wear thick rouge on her face, like those clown characters on a countryside stage. But the purple clad young lady had a clear and fair complexion and graceful brows and that air of nobility sets her apart from the surround female. How could that be Shen Miao?
He was not the only one who was perplexed. So was Pei Lang.
As Shen Miao’s teacher of two years, Pei Lang undoubtedly understood Shen Miao more than Fu Xiu Yi. It is supposedly said that one can change the appearance and clothes can be switched but the personality traits were different. Pei Lang was a scholar and scholars value personality traits more than others. Shen Miao practically became another person overnight. How would there be such a thing?
He did not think about the matter of the teacup although he felt that there was something wrong about the music piece as in his mind, how would a young lady would be able to hear the problem out of it. Not to mention Shen Miao was never an expert in qin.
Everyone were in their own thoughts when the musician ended their performance. The academy examinations were about to start.
This year’s academy examination was different from the previous. It did not differentiate between male and female but separates scholarly and military arts. Even though Guang Wen Tang require its students to be proficient in both scholarly and military arts and both arts were in the curriculum, but with the hundred years of regulations, very little females would choose military arts and in the scholarly arts, most males would commonly discuss about economics and taxation. This was because this was the way the court select their talents, just like one of the Daren had said, “It is common knowledge that successful talented candidates would often become generals and officials.”
The topics for military arts would include horse riding and shooting of arrows but that was not a really considered a success as performing military exercises as well as other specifics were not required.
Whereas for females, most of the topics on scholarly arts would be traditionally be in the four categories of literary and poetry. It was much more demanding for females not only in Ming Qi, but all the other countries. Female’s place was at home to support one’s husband and educate one’s children and to sing of the wind and moon.
Ming Qi’s examinations were all divided into three parts for one to draw out, one to select and one to challenge.
Everyone need to draw out but the school wrecked the order and made everyone who participate to draw out the topic of the academy examinations. In order to avoid getting too or extremely difficult ones, females would select in the four scholarly arts whereas the males will draw out from either the military and scholarly areas.
As this was something that cannot be avoided, Shen Miao would be humiliated in this regard as she did not know any of the four scholarly arts.
As for the second part of selecting, one can select an area which one was good at to exhibit. Like Shen Yue would often choose to play the qin and Shen Qing would choose calculation.
As for the final part which was to challenge, this was not about challenging a topic but challenging others. One would be able to go up on stage to challenge one of the students as an opponent on a particular area. Such scenes were often done when both talents are evenly match. As for Shen Miao, those who challenge her would only insult their own strength. There were also others who want to watch Shen Miao make a fool of herself and would purposely challenge Shen Miao up the stage and attack her in another way. The outcome was one that did not require much guesswork, no matter which topic, Shen Miao would suffer a crushing defeat.
That was why to Shen Miao the yearly academy examinations were like a nightmare as she would be treated as a joke by everyone. These kind of days were countless.
And it was likewise the same this year.
Like in previous years, the main examiners went up onto the stage and said a bunch of stuff while the other two came out from the back with two small wooden barrels filled with paper. These paper all had the topic of the academy examinations and it was the students who would draw it out themselves.
Both male and female would need to draw. One person walked over to the male side of the banquet and one by one the male students started to draw. The other tall female carried the wooden barrel over to the female side of the banquet and the female students started drawing orderly.
Feng An Ning blinked her eyes, “May the Gods give their blessing. I only hope to draw qin or poetry topics. I really do not know anything about painting and chess.” She looked towards Shen Miao, “You really seem not worried at all. Do you have a card up in your sleeve? Or just go with the flow of things?” She did not mean to be too harsh but Shen Miao was a fool who did not have much knowledge on anything.
Shen Miao decline to comment. What was the purpose of drawing? Qin, chess, poetry and painting were things that she could not do.
When the wooden barrel reached to Shen Miao’s table, Feng An Ning drew first and could not wait to open up the paper she drew up. She was relieved, “It’s qin! It’s qin! This is good. The qin practises these days were not wasted. Shen Miao, what is yours?”
Shen Miao’s hand was just taken out from the barrel and there was a white piece of paper in her palm that was folded to a long piece. She opened it out and there was just a word on it.